Highly prized throughout Florida and widely beloved as a symbol of the Christmas season is the Poinsettia. No other flower can make such a brilliant show of bright red throughout the festive weeks of December and January.
Poinsettias remain one of the most popular holiday flowers. Hybridizers have expanded the range of colors from the familiar red to pastel yellow and vibrant bi-colors.
One of the most common questions after Christmas is, “How can I care for my poinsettia so that it will bloom again next Christmas?”
While this can be done, it’s a very fussy, exacting process and since the plants are not that expensive, you might just choose to start fresh next year. My information on Poinsettias was provided by Dr. Robert J. Black, Professor Emeritus, University of Florida.
When purchasing a poinsettia, select a plant which has green nearly to the soil line. Old plants will have experienced excessive leaf drop. Foliage drop is also caused by fluctuating temperatures, gas fumes, soil pH and plant pests. When you first bring your Poinsettia home the following precautions should be considered:
Light – place it near a sunny window. South, east or west facing windows are preferable to a north facing window. Poinsettias are topical and will appreciate as much direct sunlight as you can provide.
Heat – to keep the poinsettia in bloom as long as possible, maintain a temperature of 65-75 degrees F. during the day. Dropping the temperature to about 60 degrees F. at night will not hurt the plant. However, cold drafts or allowing the leaves to touch a cold window can injure the leaves and cause premature leaf drop. If you’ve ever see a gangly poinsettia in bloom, with only a couple of sad looking leaves hanging on, it was probably exposed to temperature that was too cool or extreme shifts in temperature.
Water – water the plant whenever the surface feels dry to the touch. Water until it drains out the bottom, but don’t let the plant sit in water. Wilting is another common cause of leaf drop. A wilted plant can be revived and salvaged, but it will take another season to improve its appearance.
Humidity – Lack of humidity during dry season, in particular winter, is an ongoing house plant problem. If your home tends to be dry and your poinsettia is indirect light, you will find yourself watering frequently, possibly every day.
For more information on Poinsettias contact the Gulf County Extension Service @ 639-3200, 229-2909 or visit our website: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu.